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Day 1 – The ATL

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See, Atlanta and I are so close now that I get to call it by its nickname! Or…something.

Anyway, our first day began fairly early, as GP’s friend (who was our gracious host for two nights of this trip) knocked on our door to wake us up at about 8:30am as he headed to class (he’s a grad student at Tech, where he and GP met as undergrads). Knowing that we had a full day ahead of us, we got out of our Lucy-and-Ricky beds, showered, and headed out the door to the Greek (?) restaurant downstairs for some breakfast– I decided on a biscuit rather than a bagel to get that extra-Southern touch, which I was determined to do just about everywhere we went. From the diner, we headed past the CNN Center (still surrounded by scaffolding after the recent tornado) and into Centennial Park, toward the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.

We decided to hit the Aquarium first (btw, GP and I decided that aquariums need to be included in Stuff White People Like), and bought a combo pass that would allow us to go to the Aquarium as well as the WoCC in the same day. Having been pretty recently to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and having seen the whale sharks of the Georgia Aquarium on the Today Show (back when I still watched), I was pretty excited. The combination of zoo and museum is always an enticing attraction– I mean, I am a nerd, and I feel like I get bonus points for doing “educational” things on vacations. Because it was a Friday, there were fewer tourists, and mostly school groups inside: tons of children in matching shirts seems like a bad idea, especially when I noticed that they were wearing nametags. We were able to get through the five or so areas of the Aquarium in roughly 2 and a half hours, and we even got to see sea otter feeding and sea lion throwdowns!

Having seen all the fish, we decided it was time to learn more about Coke, so we headed across the way to the (new) World of Coca Cola. Stopping to grab a bite on the way was helpful, plus we got to enjoy some Coca Cola beverages ahead of time (hello, Diet Coke Plus! You mean I can drink some Diet Coke and have some vitamins? Sold!). The kickoff to the tour is a little vamping by a greeter-type lady, who says hello in many different languages and challenges the tourists to identify the languages of the Coke propaganda that is all over the anteroom (I was the only one to guess the Vietnamese one properly, but missed getting credit for it because I am not a shouter by nature). After we had been subjected to enough Awkward Tourist Greeting, we went in and watched an extended version of a Coke commercial that is usually shown in movie theaters, which was a big pile of meh. Then (then!), you are released into a sort of atrium, that strongly resembles something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with white walls and vibrant, design-y stuff all over. Very fun.

Other highlights of the World of Coke included a Pop Art exhibit, a 3-D movie (similar in quality to the “Honey I Shrunk the Audience” show at Disneyland, but in this one we learn that love is the secret ingredient in Coca Cola…because cocaine is illegal now), a bottling works (where you can geek out on cool factory stuff), and a tasting room, where you can taste disgusting soda from all over the world. I was a big fan of the Asian and African sodas, but Europe and South America are too full of radioactive and/or blackcurrant nastiness to be very enjoyable. I was bummed that I couldn’t find any Coca Light, but GP was elated that they had blue Powerade.

After buying the obligatory Christmas ornament at the Coke Store and collecting our souvenir “specially bottled right here in Atlanta” bottles of Coca Cola, we were ready to head up to the Georgia Tech campus. It was only fair that we go there, really, because I have dragged GP around the UCLA campus a time or two, and we are in LA much more often than we are in Atlanta. I was expecting something much more urban than Tech really is, but I think it’s nice that it’s a little college bubble right there in Midtown Atlanta– it’s hard to imagine GP living there, though, but that’s probably because he graduated about five or six years ago. Highlights of the tour included the Tech Tower and the ADPi house, in front of which I made GP photograph me, because I am a sorority dork. Yes, I was throwin’ up the hand sign, too.

Because we like to eat roughly every ninety minutes, we stopped at The Varsity before hopping on MARTA. While we were enjoying our Naked Dogs and onion rings (and Diet Cokes! I can’t get enough!), we saw Bill freaking Cosby. It was so awesome, but awkward for me because my back was to where he was, standing near the door; I made GP give me a play-by-play of what was happening (“What’s going on? Is he wearing a Cosby Sweater?”) Because I am not a fan of Celebrity Encounter Awkwardness, there is no picture, but believe me when I say it was all I could do not to ask the man for some pudding.

We rode the MARTA back to our “home base” and got ready for the last Atlanta Activity of the day, a Braves game at Turner Field, against the Marlins. I believe they had lost the previous evening, but I had high hopes that GP would bring the winning spirit needed to get the job done (’cause God knows Smoltz isn’t up for it). Maybe it was because it was Chipper (LARRY!) Jones’s birthday, or maybe it was all the screaming and foam-tomohawk chopping that GP did (seriously, he is still hoarse), but the Bravos pulled it out, and my first experience at Turner Field was pretty cool.

Get excited! Day 2 was the Drive to Charleston and Former-Roommates Wedding day! (Also, I have some sweet Shop It To Me finds, if anyone is feeling generous and wants to buy me some beautiful clothes.)